Sports Mascots You Had No Idea Existed
Unless you sleep on a bag of ice or arrive at social gatherings on the arm of a falconer, there's not much dignity in being a team mascot, especially if you're toiling away in relative obscurity.
When mascots trend on Twitter or go viral on YouTube, it's never because they nailed a triple backflip and brought the crowd to its feet. Mascots make headlines when they punch rival mascots in the face, suffer epic falls or get arrested sans furry facade.
Basically, each and every time a man or woman shoehorns himself or herself into 70 pounds of moist foam rubber and aging fabric, they're doing it for a reason that transcends money, fame and respect. And you have to respect that.
This is an homage to all those mascots who prance around arenas, stadiums and rinks—in relative obscurity—looking like a vague, psychotic facsimile of the thing they are actually supposed to be.
Team: Columbus Clippers
Affiliation: Cleveland Indians, Triple-A
The team is called the Clippers, so a seal dressed like a pirate and a parrot dressed like a high school jock were the only possible choices for mascots. Duh.
Team: Lexington Legends
Affiliation: Kansas City Royals, Low-A
The Lexington Legends' many mascots are legendarily creepy, and the elaborate backstories cooked up by their PR team don’t do much to change that perception.
And just in case you're wondering—Big L and Elle are married, but PeeWee is single and ready to mingle.
School: Joliet Central High School
Another very literal interpretation. They’re the Joliet Central High School Steelmen (and Steelwomen, apparently), so their mascot is a Steelman.
A man made from and constructed of oddly shaped blocks of steel. A Steelman. That’s a thing, right?
Team: Grimsby Town F.C.
Unfortunately for Grimsby Town fans, there really isn’t anything mighty about the team's old-man mascot, Mighty Mariner.
Actually, that’s not true! Mighty Mariner looks mighty grumpy. It looks like he’s shouting “Get off my lawn, ya damn hooligans!”
School: Hutto High School
Despite what looks like a seriously disabling physical girth, the hippopotamus is actually one of the most aggressive and dangerous animals.
Hutto High School wanted its mascot to be tough but not too tough. A hippo with big, red, kissable lips is perfection personified in that department.
School: Huron High School
Mascot: River Rats
Huron High School definitely thought outside the box to come up with the River Rats mascot.
As someone who has lived near many rivers, I can personally attest to the fearlessness and surprisingly confrontational nature of river rats.
Team: Modesto Nuts
Affiliation: Colorado Rockies, High-A
In choosing a mascot, the Modesto Nuts decided to go the literal route as opposed to something more abstract.
Wally Walnut and Al Almond are the products of a very unimaginative mind.
Team: Charlotte Knights
Affiliation: Chicago White Sox, Triple-A
Homer the Dragon is one of the cuter nonsensical mascots in minor league baseball. Actually, considering there’s a “Knights & Dragons” game app, I suppose it’s not that nonsensical.
Homer predates the app by a couple of decades, though, so perhaps he was the game creator’s muse.
Team: Albuquerque Isotopes
Affiliation: Los Angeles Dodgers, Triple-A
The Isotopes—yes, the team was inspired by the Springfield Isotopes on The Simpsons—mascot is a “large goofy alien” named Orbit.
His bio notes that “his floppy ears, friendly eyes, and long snout gives him the appearance of a dog while his large belly makes him look like a stuffed bear.”
I’m not seeing any of that. Orbit looks more like a radioactive Big Bird—all that exposure to radioactive isotopes was bound to catch up to him eventually.
School: Calhoun High School
Calhoun High School is located in the Texas Gulf town of Port Lavaca, making the sandcrab a pretty natural—though not entirely intimidating—mascot.
The school is actually situated on Sandcrab Boulevard, which makes you wonder if they just picked the first name they saw on a sign.
Team: Lehigh Valley IronPigs
Affiliation: Philadelphia Phillies, Triple-A
The IronPigs' official mascots are actually Ferrous and FeFe, two plushy pigs who may or may not be married. They’re probably just living in sin together in the same pen.
Hambone, Diggity and Chris P. Bacon race during the 7th inning stretch—like the sausages in Milwaukee, the pierogies in Pittsburgh and the presidents in Washington.
Team: Lehigh Valley IronPigs
Affiliation: Philadelphia Phillies, Triple-A
Just in case you were curious about the IronPigs living in sin, here are Ferrous and FeFe.
Team: Indianapolis Indians
Affiliation: Pittsburgh Pirates, Triple-A
According to the team's website, Rowdie is a “fuzzy red bear” who found his way to Bush Stadium because he was unable to find a proper cave for hibernating in Indianapolis.
The story of how Rowdie came to be is actually six full paragraphs, if you’re interested. I’ll save you some trouble—they don’t explain how/why his nose was replaced with a baseball.
School: Hoopeston High School
The Hoopeston High School Cornjerkers are kinda like the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers. Both have to do with the manual manipulation of corn.
They should really change the name, though, because Cornjerker just sounds graphic. High school kids don’t need help making things sound filthy.
Team: Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders
Affiliation: New York Yankees, Triple-A
Back in November 2012, the Yankees applied to trademark the name RailRiders, which was leading the fan vote at the time. "At the time" being the operative phrase, because Porcupines ended up getting the majority of the votes in the end.
Rather than submitting all that pesky paperwork again, the team added a porcupine over the RailRiders logo—which looks ridiculous—and brought Quills on board to placate the fans.
As for Champ, the crazy blue baseball monster with pipes for ears, there’s no semi-reasonable explanation for him. He’s just the product of someone’s bad acid trip.
Team: Fresno Grizzlies
Affiliation: San Francisco Giants, Triple-A
Since the team is called the Grizzlies, it’s safe to assume that Parker the mascot is supposed to be a grizzly bear.
Or the product of a grizzly bear that mated with a giant bag of circus peanuts.
School: Oregon Episcopal School
Oregon Episcopal School’s Aardvark mascot tops the list of American mascots (excluding those with an apostrophe)…when put in alphabetical order.
The aardvark isn't a particularly useful or intimidating animal, but as a mascot, it represents a significant step up from a falcon (the school’s former mascot) in terms of creativity.
Team: Hillsboro Hops
Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks, Low-A
The Hillsboro Hops mascot is Barley. See what they did there? Hops + Barley = Beer!
It’s kinda clever and sorta stupid, which is an awesome combination, if you ask me.
Team: Denver Outlaws
The Denver Outlaws lacrosse team picked a very good animal representation of an outlaw for its mascot. Like all raccoons, Stix comes equipped with a built-in bandit mask.
And when he’s not supporting the Outlaws at games and in the community, he’s probably knocking over your garbage cans and scattering your trash all over the street.
Team: Boston Cannons
The Boston Cannons lacrosse team mascot, Boomer, is a hilariously lighthearted take on a piece of antiquated heavy artillery.
Boomer is one happy-go-lucky and drunk-looking weapon of marginal destruction. Only Boston could pull off something like this.
Team: Las Vegas 51s
Affiliation: New York Mets, Triple-A
According to the team's website, Cosmo “is a survivor of a spaceship crash who spent time at Area 51 and was a baseball phenom on his home planet of Koufaxia.” He loves hot dogs, the Styx song “Mr. Roboto” and Star Trek.
That’s a pretty elaborate backstory aimed at disguising the fact that Cosmo is obviously just Jar Jar Binks. At least they picked the one character George Lucas probably wouldn’t go to court to protect. It would be too embarrassing.
Team: San Antonio Missions
Affiliation: San Diego Padres, Double-A
Ballapeno is the official mascot of the Missions, and Henry the Puffy Taco is nothing more than a corporate shill who pretends to love baseball but only truly cares about selling tacos.
Now, we can’t even trust the intentions of a grown man (or woman, but probably a man) dressed as a taco! What is this world coming to?
School: Camas High School
At some point in time, the powers that be at Camas High School in Washington had to choose a team name, and for some crazy reason, they decided on the Papermakers.
Papermakers, the makers of paper. Mean Machine, their actual mascot, looks like a missing part from a printer with the face of someone trying to fix said printer.
Team: Reno Aces
Affiliation: Arizona Diamondbacks, Triple-A
Look at him stripping naked in front of a ballpark full of families! That’s just not right. Neither is that freaky tongue of his. Mascots don’t need tongues.
Team: University of Findlay
University of Findlay mascot Derrick the Oiler is, quite obviously, a long-lost but very close relative of Steely McBeam, the Steelers' equally burly and bearish mascot.
Just look at that square jaw, neatly manicured scruff, jumpsuit and hard hat. Derrick works on a macho oil rig; Steely works at a macho steel mill.
These macho men are two very strapping peas in a muscular and sturdy pod.